After a regular season that saw Dawson County seniors Ben McGinnis and Collin Kilgore lead the Tigers across the finish line in every cross-country race of the season, the duo entered the GHSA 3-AAA State Finals on Nov. 2 in Carrollton listed as dark-horse candidates to win it all. And, in a field of 214 runners from 31 schools, they did not disappoint.
Kilgore finished the race in a blistering 17:03.54, less than a minute off the pace, to capture All-State honors with a tenth-place finish. He was followed closely by McGinnis, with his time of 17:08.88, in eleventh place as the Dawson County Tigers topped the podium with a fifth-place overall finish.
Juniors Luke Hamby and Brendan Swafford along with sophomore Ethan Smith rounded out the scoring runners for the Tigers with a meager 1:14 seconds separating the five athletes.
“Overall, I was pleased with how we did,” head coach Charles Beusse said. “The boy's 5th place finish was great considering how strong AAA is this year on the boy's side.”
North Hall’s Andrew Jones took home the region 3-AAA individual state title and heavily favored Westminster captured the overall title.
As she has done all season, senior Evion Reinhart led the Lady Tigers to the finish line with a time of 22:53.13. Junior Celine Sapp turned in one of her best performances of the season at 23:06.38. Jenna LeCours (Sr), Molly Meunchen (Jr) and sophomore Kathryn Menoche combined for the final three spots in the Dawson County rotation to bring the team into a ninth-place overall finish.
“I would have to see the records at school, but I know that this is nearly 12 years in the top 10 for the girls … I'd have to look to be sure though,” Beusse said. “I know that since I started 7 years ago, the girls have been top ten each year and the boy's team has been the past six seasons, a feat few public schools can claim.”
The Westminster School swept the top two spots in the with sophomore Mira Srinivasa bringing home the gold and freshman runner Palmer Walstad grabbing the silver medal. The pair powered Westminster to the overall victory.
With the 2019 season all but over, coach Beusse’s thoughts have already turned towards next season and the continued success he sees on the horizon.
“I'm already looking forward to next season. I feel like we have the talent coming up to make some noise next season with the boys and girls and I know all of our kids are already working toward next year’s goals,” Beusse said. “I consider myself very blessed to have been given the opportunity to be involved in such a great program in an amazing district.”